'German James Bond' Werner Mauss on trial for tax evasion

Werner Mauss, a former secret agent for German police and intelligence services, arrives for the first day of his trial for tax evasion at a Bochum courthouse on 26 September 2016 in GermanyImage copyright
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Werner Mauss is reported to have said once that James Bond was “too boring”

A former top spy in Germany has gone on trial on charges of tax evasion.

Werner Mauss, nicknamed the “German James Bond”, is accused of hiding more than €15m ($17m, £13m) in offshore accounts.

He denies any wrongdoing and says the accounts were set up by intelligence agencies to fund secret operations.

Mr Mauss, 76, says on his website that as a spy he stopped a Mafia attempt to poison Pope Benedict and freed hostages held captive by Colombian rebels.

He also says he smashed more than 100 criminal groups.

Now prosecutors accuse Mr Mauss of placing large sums of undeclared funds in offshore accounts, including in the Bahamas.

Incognito appearance

The retired agent appeared in court wearing a navy parka with the hood pulled over his head.

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For a long time, there were no pictures of Werner Mauss

He declined to make a statement on the first day of the trial.

His lawyers say he is unable to mount “a proper defence” because he is still bound by confidentiality agreements linked to his decades of undercover work.

Mr Mauss used more than 30 aliases, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung reports.

The court in Bochum, in the state of North Rhine Westphalia, has charged him under four of them, Werner Mauss, Dieter Koch, Claus Moellner, and Richard Nelson.

If found guilty, he could be jailed to up to 10 years in jail.

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